One step at a time. It’s such a simple concept yet so hard to carry out. We get impatient or bored with the process. Each day brings a new challenge to start again. It’s a principle, however, that will help us accomplish each and every one of our goals.
For the last 6 months, I would say to myself, ‘Cathy, you have to do sit-ups!’ and I’d answer back, ‘oh, I’ll get to it later’ or ‘I don’t like doing it!’ or ‘I think I’ll do it tomorrow’. I had all kinds of excuses.
It only takes 15 minutes to do a few sit-ups. I would take more than 15 minutes a day arguing with myself about doing it, justifying why I couldn’t do it, and explaining to myself why I should do it! It’s exhausting arguing with myself.
Nike – Just Do It.
One reason I didn’t get to it was because I wasn’t very good at it. (I’d rather do things I’m good at.) It was also awkward, it did't fit into my schedule, and it hurt.
But, as a New Year’s Resolution, I told myself I’d do core exercises 3 times a week for the month of January. The first couple of weeks, it was awkward, I wasn’t very good at it, it didn’t fit into my schedule, and it hurt. But I did it anyway just to say I did and get the month over with. I used sheer willpower and was motivated by checking it off my list. That will work for a while but it's not sustainable.
Surprisingly, during the third week of this awkward, inconvenient, and painful exercise, it became a little easier. By the fourth week, the whole 15 minutes was easy to do.
And then I noticed how I was standing up straighter. My posture was better as I sat at my desk. And, . . . I felt better running!
So what happened? After taking this small step three times a week, it became easier and more routine. Then I realized the benefits of this small inconvenience. It became a good investment of my time and energy. Now I want to do core exercises! It's no longer awkward, I'm better at it, it fits into my schedule, and it barely hurts!
To make progress, we need to approach our goal one small step at a time. Our human nature will fight against us. Take a step that is easy enough to accomplish for a few weeks. Then, pay attention to your progress. Here are some facts that you'll need to get through those early weeks.
- You won't be very good at it when you start
- It will be uncomfortable
- It won't fit into your schedule naturally
- It may hurt
- You can make progress!
Give yourself time to move through these phases to make progress. Slowly things do change. It's possible that it will become something you enjoy doing or at least you'll be willing to do it for the benefits it provides.
Where do you want to see progress in your life? Can you come up with some reasons to move towards that? What do you think will be your rewards? Are you willing to be patient with the process? Are you open to the possibility that there are more benefits than you even know right now?
Answer these questions and then commit to making progress for one month. Use your willpower to get started. You may not be there after 30 days but notice what progress you’ve made. Then comes another challenge. Stop and look at your progress and decide if you’ll commit another month to it. Don't view your progress as ALL or NOTHING! Just take it one step at a time.
So take that first step. Realize this is a slow process. Allow it to work, assess your progress and decide whether or not to keep going.